Rental process

Learn about the rental process
OK, you like a home. Now what?

Your completed Application to Rent form, (click to see the form), is submitted to the landlord or his/her agent, together with your credit report.

The credit report must include FICO scores.

Note that many listing agents and landlords prefer the credit reports be run by a lender, and be from all three bureaus,

A separate application form must be filled out by everyone over the age of 18 who will be living in the home.

It’s best that you get the following ready because they must accompany your application:

 most recent bank statements,
Two most recent pay stubs, (if you’re self-employed, a copy of your tax return will be okay),
Copy of driver license.
Credit reports with FICO scores, for all applicants.


All the homes are individually owned, so each owner has his/her own list of things that must be submitted before deciding whether to accept you as a tenant or not. Some landlords may want to see other documentation besides what is listed above.

Sometimes your employment may have to be verified with your employer, and your previous rental history may be checked. It’s a good idea to get a reference letter from your current landlord if you have one.

It’s super-important to provide a legible, complete, neat application. Don’t leave anything blank, and don’t forget to initial the first page & sign halfway down the second page. A messy, incomplete application may give the wrong impression!

Oops, your credit isn’t wonderful. Now what?

Often a letter explaining your situation helps a landlord see past the credit scores. Just because your FICO scores are low, does not mean that you’re incapable of paying your rent on time every month.

You might have lost your home to a short sale or foreclosure, but you probably still have the ability to pay for a roof over your head! Possibly you were unemployed for a while but now have a job. A bankruptcy due to medical bills or a business that went south may be the reason for low credit scores.

Explaining these things in a letter helps to eliminate any doubt in the landlord’s mind and allows the landlord to make a decision based on current facts, and not just credit scores.

If you are moving from another lease home, it’s always a good idea to get a letter from your current landlord, saying what great tenants you are, with no late payments and saying how you have always taken great care of the home.

Another good idea is to offer to pay the rent on your new place via a direct deposit into the new landlord’s bank account, so they won’t have to worry about your payments being mailed on time, and if you offer to pay the entire 12 month’s rent up-front, of course that will help a lot!

There are other ways to secure a lease if your credit has seen better days, or if you’re not working, (like having a friend or family member co-sign / be your guarantor), and we can discuss this if you like.

Landlords just want to sleep at night, (without taking sleeping tablets), and you can help if you understand that there are two main things that the landlord is looking for in a tenant:
(1) Someone who will will pay the rent on time, and
(2) Someone who will take good care of the property.

How much will you pay?

Expect to pay the following by cashier’s checks before move-in:
  First month’s rent, (sometimes pro-rated if you move in after the 1st of the month.)
  Security deposit (usually a little more than the monthly rental amount, but could be as much as twice the rent for unfurnished homes, or more if you have a waterbed.)
  Key deposit, (usually $100).
  Pet deposit, (usually $500 per pet, but not all homes allow pets).

The above needs to be paid by cashier’s checks. Usually the landlord requires the above to be paid in two or three cashier’s checks, one to the landlord and the other/s made out to the real estate brokerage/s. (This saves the landlord the hassle of getting cashier’s checks for the brokerages himself.)

All landlords are different so the above could be different for the house you’re applying for. Check with your Realtor.

Need help finding a place to rent?

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